Table of ContentsPrevious PageNext Page

Bradley, A. C. Shakespearean Tragedy: Lectures on Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth.
2nd ed. London: Macmillan, 1905.
PAGE 395

the tragedy, outdoing the appeals of Volumnia and Virgilia by the statement,

                           'A shall not tread on me:
I'll run away till I'm bigger, but then I'll fight.

Still one does not easily forget little Macduff's delightful and well justified confidence in his ability to defeat his mother in argument; or the deep impression she made on him when she spoke of his father as a 'traitor'; or his immediate response when he heard the murderer call his father by the same name, --

Thou liest, thou shag-haired villain.

Nor am I sure that, if the son of Coriolanus had been murdered, his last words to his mother would have been, 'Run away, I pray you.'

     I may add two remarks. The presence of this child is one of the things in which Macbeth reminds us of Richard III. And he is perhaps the only person in the tragedy who provokes a smile. I say 'perhaps,' for though the anxiety of the Doctor to escape from the company of his patient's husband makes one smile, I am not sure that it was meant to.



     The Porter does not make me smile: the moment is too terrific. He is grotesque; no doubt the contrast he affords is humorous as well as ghastly; I dare say the groundlings roared with laughter at his coarsest remarks. But they are not comic enough to allow one to forget for a moment what has preceded and what must follow. And I am far from complaining of this. I believe that it is what Shakespeare intended, and that he despised the groundlings if they laughed. Of course he could have written without the least difficulty speeches five times as humorous; but he knew better. The Grave-diggers make us laugh; the old Countryman

Table of ContentsPrevious PageNext Page